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Montgomery County Small Business Assistance Program Surpasses $1 Million Distributed in Helping Wheaton Businesses During Construction of New Government Office Building

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Montgomery County’s Small Business Assistance Program, which was created to provide technical and financial assistance to qualified Downtown Wheaton businesses during the three-year Wheaton Revitalization construction project, reached another milestone recently as it has distributed $1,022,287 to 23 businesses since the inception of the program. An additional $2,572 has been approved for disbursement to two businesses in the near future.

More than 90 businesses in the “Wheaton Triangle” area surround a future 14-story office building and an adjacent town square. Most have remained open during construction that began in June 2017. Those impacted by the construction have had the opportunity to apply for the innovative form of help from the County to stabilize their businesses. The building will be owned by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), which is relocating from Downtown Silver Spring. The additional office tenants will be County Government departments.

The project, which is being overseen by the County’s Department of Transportation, is 90 percent complete, with interior construction active on all floors and the major building systems such as the electrical system now on-line. The building remains on schedule to be substantially completed in May 2020. Construction of the town square is 75 percent complete and construction of the amphitheater terracing has started.

The Small Business Assistance Program was established in 2012 by Bill 6-12, sponsored by County Councilmember Nancy Navarro, to provide assistance to small businesses who may be negatively impacted by a redevelopment project connected to the County  In Fiscal Year 2018, $200,000 in seed money was added to the fund to carry out the duties as specified by this bill.

Businesses are eligible for reimbursement of revenue losses if they can demonstrate an adverse financial impact during construction. The unique aspect of the County program is that businesses owners are eligible for direct financial assistance—up to a maximum of $125,000 over the construction period. The original limit of payments in the program was $75,000 per business over the three-year period, but the maximum payment was later increased to $125,000 by approval of County Executive Marc Elrich and the County Council.

“While we were looking toward the future with the construction of the new building that will help revitalize Downtown Wheaton, from the start, we always had concern for the small businesses that have been part of this community for so long,” said County Executive Elrich. “It was important for us to provide these businesses with help to make sure that they made it through the disruptive construction period and the Small Business Assistance Program has worked as designed. We look forward to the completion of construction—and having these small businesses as part of the revitalized Wheaton.”

The amounts of approved reimbursements have ranged from $1,199 to $68,270. The Latino Economic Development Center, which has a contract with the County to work with businesses during construction, has provided technical assistance to many businesses that has included marketing, business planning and legal counseling. The assistance is designed to help develop long-term plans that will take the businesses well-beyond the construction period.

“Small businesses are vital to our community and protecting them is a top priority,” said Councilmember Navarro, who represents Council District 4 that includes Downtown Wheaton. “This is why I sponsored Bill 6-12 at the County Council that created the Small Business Assistance Program. These businesses have served this community in many ways for a very long time, I am pleased that we are willing and able to support them throughout the construction phase of this revitalization project.”

Council President Sidney Katz, whose family owned a small Montgomery County business for decades, said: “As a former small business owner, I know how important small businesses are to a community. That is why it is so very necessary that we assist the small businesses in the Wheaton Redevelopment area so that they can continue to flourish throughout this long-term construction project. When this new County building is completed, it will be a focal point in Wheaton and will serve the entire County. I am pleased to support the program and I am pleased that Montgomery County has been able to help so many during the time of construction.”  

Eligible businesses that have yet to apply for assistance can do so through the County’s Department of Finance, which oversees the program. Applications and program details are available, in English and Spanish, via the department’s website at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/Biz-Resources/business-financing.html#SBAP.

The project will transform Wheaton’s central business district with a mixed-use, transit-oriented development. In addition to the construction of the 14-story government office building, the project will provide 397 below ground parking spaces, first floor retail space and the new town square. Most significantly impacted during construction is the Wheaton Triangle area between Veirs Mill Road and Georgia Avenue. The local roads that form the Triangle area include Grandview Avenue, Reedie Drive and Triangle Lane.

The main occupant of the new building will be the relocated M-NCPPC. The 308,000 square-foot building, which is seeking to achieve LEED platinum certification, also will be home to several County departments including Permitting Services, Environmental Protection, Health and Human Services, Recreation and Community Use of Public Facilities. In addition, relocating to the new building will be the Wheaton Urban District and the Mid-County Regional Services office.

A camera installation allows viewing of the construction site. It can be accessed via the project’s website at wheatonproject.com.



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Release ID: 20-047
Media Contact: Neil H. Greenberger 240-777-6532